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Government Executive Editor in Chief Tom Shoop, along with other editors and staff correspondents, look at the federal bureaucracy from the outside in.

Trump to Cabinet: I’m Cutting Your Budgets, But Expect ‘Lots of Heart’

President Trump speaks at a Cabinet meeting Monday. President Trump speaks at a Cabinet meeting Monday. Evan Vucci/AP

President Trump held a Cabinet meeting Wednesday to discuss a range of domestic policy issues. He opened the session by telling the assembled department leaders they needed to fight to reduce their own budgets.

But lest the president be perceived as a cold, calculating cost-cutter, he said he still expected federal agencies to operate with “lots of heart.”

From Trump’s remarks:

So we want to also reduce excessive government spending, and that's what we're working on at our Cabinet meeting today. As we head into next year's budget season, I've asked [Office of Management and Budget] Director [Mick] Mulvaney to come up and find various savings in all of the departments that are gathered around the table, which is everybody. I need my Cabinet to work with Director Mulvaney to fight these spending cuts—fight for them—and make sure that they happen. And we want to make the departments as lean and efficient as possible, but at the same time, we're going to need departments with lots of heart, lots of heart.

In March, Trump issued an executive order ordering agencies to develop reorganization plans to eliminate redundancies in federal operations and reduce costs. He followed that with a memo specifying that agencies submit their final plans by September 2017. The White House has not made those plans public yet.

Agency leaders told a Senate panel in June that they were working on proposals to make their operations more efficient, but weren’t focusing on workforce reductions.

So far, the administration has made little progress in trimming the federal bureaucracy. Trump’s initial budget proposal recommended eliminating 19 federal agencies, but none of them appear in imminent danger of being axed in Congress.

Tom Shoop is vice president and editor in chief at Government Executive Media Group, where he oversees both print and online editorial operations. He started as associate editor of Government Executive magazine in 1989; launched the company’s flagship website, GovExec.com, in 1996; and was named editor in chief in 2007.

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